QoD: Are there more $1 bills or $100 bills in circulation?

Mar 17, 2019
Current Events, Economics

Answer: $100 bills


  • Any theories on why there are now more $100 bills than $1 bills in circulation [if stumped, read the CNBC article below for the answers]
  • Why do you think that criminals might prefer $100 bills as a store of value?
  • Lots of these $100 bills are held by people outside the U.S. Why might they prefer holding dollars rather than their own currencies? 

Here's the ready-to-go slides for this Question of the Day that you can use in your classroom.

Behind the numbers (from CNBC): 

The amount of $100 bills in circulation is surging. And it's leaving some economists scratching their heads. The number of outstanding U.S. $100 bills has doubled since the financial crisis, with more than 12 billion of them across the world, according to the latest data from the Federal Reserve. C-notes have passed $1 bills in circulation, Deutsche Bank chief international economist Torsten Slok said in a note to clients this week.


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About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.